Dwaine Woolley is creating Engkanto, a board game inspired by mythology

Mythology is a colorful facet of Philippine culture. From stories of heroes to deities to mythological creatures, they tell the story of who we are as Filipinos.

It’s no wonder that people take inspiration from them, just like former Foreignoy contestant and actor Dwaine Woolley, who designed a board game called Engkanto by taking cues from local mythology. 

He’s an Australian who learned about engkantos in Leyte and Samar

Dwaine Woolley Engkanto boardgame
Image credit: Dwaine Woolley

Woolley, who was born in Australia, currently lives in the Philippines. He first picked up the Tagalog, Cebuano, and Waray-Waray languages when he visited Leyte and Samar in 2011, and has since married his Filipina wife with whom he has a cute baby son.

During his time in these provinces, he learned how myths are a huge part of the everyday lives of the locals. This, in turn, sparked his interest to learn more about engkantos, or mythical spirits.

“I heard so many wild tales about these things called engkanto that the Waray people believed in. I heard people talk about Biringan City and met others who were too scared to talk about it. It fascinated me that engkanto[s] were such a big part of these people’s lives… The more I heard, the more interested I became in learning about the engkanto,” Woolley told The Smart Local Philippines.

The game features 4 bayanis from local legends

Dwaine Woolley Engkanto - Lapu-Lapu miniature
A miniature of Lapu-Lapu
Image credit: Dwaine Woolley 

In the 5-player game, a maximum of 4 bayanis or heroes, which include Lapu-Lapu, Malakas, Maganda, and Maria Makiling, have to journey through the Enchanted Forests of Samar to find the legendary Biringan City. The goal is to reach this mystical city, said to be located between Pagsanghan and Gandara in Samar where, according to legends, locals are lured towards by engkantos.

Engkantos include the tikbalang and the white lady

Dwaine Woolley Engkanto - Tikbalang miniature
A miniature of Tikbalang
Image credit: Kickstarter 

There’s one slot for the role of engkanto. One player gets to control the engkanto miniatures, such as the tikbalang – a creature with the head of a horse and body of a man – and the white lady that the bayanis should avoid. 

Dwaine Woolley Engkanto - boardgame
Image credit: Dwaine Woolley 

As they look for the city, the bayanis will have to look out for treasures to offer the ancient Filipino deities along the way, and collect items and weapons that will help them survive.

Dwaine Woolley Engkanto - treasure chest cards
Image credit: Dwaine Woolley

The game follows a day-and-night timeline, so participants can plan their strategies accordingly. During the day, the engkantos are weaker, while at night, they are stronger.

Why Woolley was inspired to create this game

For Woolley, coming up with his own board game with his own rules is a dream come true.

“When I was 12 years old, I created a few board games about fighting monsters and played them with my family. It was my dream to really bring them to life on a big board but I didn’t know how to do it as I was just a kid. Now that I’m older, I decided to bring that childhood dream of mine back to life,” he told The Smart Local Philippines.

In crafting the rules of the game, he made sure that players would be able to play the game flawlessly through play-testing sessions. “I playtested over and over, and cleaned up [the] rules to make the game flawless and tons of fun.”

Pre-order the Engkanto board game on Kickstarter

Dwaine Woolley Engkanto
Image credit: Dwaine Woolley

You can now pre-order the board game on Kickstarter, where you can choose different versions of the game at different price points.

The basic Engkanto board game is at AUD50 (~P1,718), which includes one board, 56 tokens, 33 miniatures, 100 cards, and 7 die, among other features. The ultimate edition at AUD900 (~P30,939) is a 3D board game with 12 three-dimensional painted boards and 43 painted miniatures – we imagine these would easily last a tabletop game-loving family through the rest of the quarantine.

Woolley is still sourcing Kickstarter pledges for the project until 15th November 2020, so the production of the board game will only start once it is fully funded. As of writing, the total amount of money pledged is at AUD5,937 of the AUD35,000 goal.

If the goal isn’t reached by 15th November and you’ve already pre-ordered the game, your card won’t be charged. Learn more how you can make a pledge by watching his video on YouTube. 

The Engkanto board game is inspired by Philippine mythology

Our local tales are indeed a fascinating world where we can take endless inspirations from, filled with characters we first discovered in bedtime stories with our parents.

It’s great to see creators such as Woolley adapting elements of Philippine mythology into creative pursuits, such as his modern board game, today.

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Cover image adapted from: Dwaine Woolley on Youtube, Dwaine Woolley on Facebook

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